Hornwort/coontail/ceratophyllum Demersum ...

  • #1
Hello to everyone!

In the two years since I started in the hobby, a considerable amount of hornwort has passed through my rather small tanks. At first they thrived, but then they started withering away and now ... all have died.
I know they can not coexist wit Elodea, and never had the latter until all my hornwort had died.

They are, says and writes everyone, one of the hardiest plants freshwater has seen since 2 millions of years.
There are a couple of plants that have not let me down in 2 these years. A Java fern, the very first plant I bought for my first tank keeps slowly but steadily growing and so do the intriguing moss balls.

I use Seachem Flourish.

Could anyone enlighten me?

Many thanks in advance for any reaction!
  • #2
My hornwort has to be replenished occasionally but my Goldie’s tend to play with it.
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  • #3
My hornwort has to be replenished occasionally but my Goldie’s tend to play with it.
I apologize for not answering sooner. A friend of mine in Germany had (and still has, unfortunately) a problem with her dear fishies dying and I took (and still take) care of her questioning and answering in this forum. Apparently in Germany English is much less a household language than I thought.
Moreover, these days I got a shipment of only a few but delicate fish that I had been expecting for more than a month and I had to be constantly alert not to miss it.

I wanted to send you some pictures to illustrate how dramatically my hornwort depleted - very much like how, long ago, dinosaurs disappeared from the face of the earth. Talking about dinosaurs, I read that in the late 1980s fossilized hornwort was discovered somewhere in Indonesia. It dated back from 2 millions of years ago.
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  • #4
These pictures were made as recently as last December:

IMG_3392 za02de17start - BG only, 2 lavarotsen, 5 kokosnoten.JPG

Imagine how much is left of the hornwort after a mere 6 months. Nothing.

This is how it looks now:


I had a 8 gallon tank with Everglades pygmy sunfish, they come originally from the southern part of the US East Coast. The hornwort close to the rear glass was so dense that the tiny fish - they spawn back home in hornwort and rarely outgrow one inch of length - had to struggle to get through them.
I have searched among the thousands of pictures of the tank, but I cannot find the right ones - I had a mirror permanently behind the aquarium.
I hope to find the answer why they always die off.
Hornwort is supposed to be among the plants that are easiest to keep and more importantly, they are supposed to clean the water in an almost prodigious way..
  • #5
I had hornwort in my planted tank and it literally just died off until it was just a bunch of needles in my substrate which took forever to clean. All my other plants were doing great. Guess it's a hit-or-miss.
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  • #6
Sorry to hear about that.

After all I have been lucky, then.
I had the same frustrating experience with cryptocoryne and I am not very lucky with Anubias either.
As a matter of fact, together with the Java fern I got a nice Anubias barterI barteri. Now there are two small pieces left.

The elodea is growing too in a curious way along the substrate:


I do not understand why it does that. The roots are standing in special substrate rich in nutrients - the brown stuff on the very bottom of the mozzarella container:



  • IMG_4467.JPG
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  • #7
I have little success with java fern and anubias, but all my harder to keep plants are thriving. -.-
my rotala rotundifolia is actually turning really nice and pink even under low light.
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  • #8
The rotala surely looks like a difficult plant to keep.

I bought plants that were cheap, easy to keep and would resist low temperatures, for I started out with cold water fish - Everglades pygmy sunfish. They have no roots, for at an early stage I eliminated the substrate. Only when the Anubias suffered in winter I bought a heater to have it survive in a tiny tank. And now I have a layer of sand because the multies who arrived yesterday want to dig. And vals and elodea in small robiola-cheese boxes.

The water here is pH 8.5 and KH 12.
The Java fern is the plant for which I care the most. Luckily it lives up to its reputation of being an easy guest and is thriving.
  • #9
What is your lighting on the tank?
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  • #10
An old-school neon: Radium NL 18W/865.

I bought the tank second hand. There was a crack in the plastic of the cover and some heavy metal thing necessary to get the light going damaged it lately. Now I have 3 pieces of plexiglas covering the tank and use a study lamp with a LED bulb 7W or 9W, I change them. The hornwort was already gone.

Jocelyn Adelman
  • #11
Not sure where you read hornwort and anacharis can’t do well together, that is untrue.
Hornwort grows best when floating, if you want to anchor it leave a longer piece along the top. You will need to change that lighting though. It likes its nutrients (flourish is low on N, might have contributed to demise)
Anacharis is another floating plant, the roots in nutrient rich substrate won’t make much of a difference, absorbs through the water column.
Healthy java ferns average 1new leaf a week...
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  • #12
Not sure where you read hornwort and anacharis can’t do well together, that is untrue
Hornwort grows best when floating, if you want to anchor it leave a longer piece along the top. You will need to change that lighting though. It likes its nutrients (flourish is low on N, might have contributed to demise)
Anacharis is another floating plant, the roots in nutrient rich substrate won’t make much of a difference, absorbs through the water column.
Healthy java ferns average 1new leaf a week...

Thank you for your input.
The information came from a lengthy Italian article. The author said there was allelopathy between hornwort and anacharis, so they were not supposed to be in the same tank. I saved the link but it now gives access to a greatly abridged version:
Ceratophyllum demersum e Ceratophyllum submersum

I merely used some ceramic rings to sink the hornwort and to make the whole look neat. Those were the days I still had no substrate whatsoever in my tanks.

The 8 gal tank I started with came without lighting. I used two study lamps with low-energy non-LED lamps like in the first picture. They would be 5, 7, or 9W for 4600K or 6400K -6500K.


The 19 gal pictured above was not new. There was a crack in the light cap/cover, which lately widened. I am weary to use it again. In this moment I use a LED bulb 9W/6500K in a long-armed study lamp:

It is all a matter of budget.
What light would you recommend in terms of Watts and Kelvin?

For over a year the Java fern would grow new tiny leaves everywhere even in places where it does so rarely. But that, too, is history.

These are the fertilizers I can get at reasonable prices:
FertilizzantI | Negozio Acquari
Once it was also written in English, unfortunatey I cannot find it anymore.

If none of the brand names meets the requirements, would it be possible to provide me with or refer me to a list of nutrients needed by Javafern?

Thanks in advance...
Jocelyn Adelman
  • #13
So a lot of things here...
First I’m excited to read the article, thanks for the link.

In terms of kelvins and wattage... most spectral coverage would come from 6500k... that is not to say other spectrums wouldn’t work, but to explain by typing would be near impossible. Overall 6500k is the temp to look for.
Watts per gallon... used to be the standard for measurement, now we use PAR measurements... why? Watts don’t translate well with led... upgrade technology upgrade measurements. PAR measures the ability of the light do penetrate water at certain depths. Generally around 30par is the higher end of low light plants, some plants can go as low as 10 (anubias) but most can’t. 20-30 would be the target for most low light plants.
If had to use wpg 0.5 would be the bare minimum, with up to 2wpg for lower light plants. However... tank depth is the consideration here... a 20long with a 40w light bulb would give you drastically different results then a 20high with 40w (again we get into penetration at particular depth, as well as spread(lumens etc).

Java’s overall aren’t that picky, mine actually love a touch extra phosphorus... however, ferts need to be dosed in compatibility... too much of one and too little of another can cause an imbalance. Overall, the more fast growing plants you have the more competition you will have for nutrients. However, this is all controlled by the lighting, this will drive the growth.
For your particular case right now I would focus on the lights first, consider ferts supportive care to lighting. Once the lighting is improved the plants will need nutrients to support healthy growth. How much and what type is often determined by plant mass and needs
Overall you want to look for ferts with NPK as well as micros (I’ve come across N is a bit harder to get overseas st times though). I will check into the site you posted a bit later in the day to give you more specific answers.
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  • #14
Thanks for your reaction.
When I did not hear anything, I assumed that you thought I was asking things known and obvious to anyone. Life being notoriously dynamic on the North American East Coast and people being so busy there, it only seems logical that in NJ one would be a little picky on how to use one's time. Fortunately I had got it all wrong.

I have overexercised my tiny brain lately and therefore am unable to look into things necessary to reply.
Until soon.

Edit: in the meantime I got the link to the English version of my provider's website.
Clicking on "Details" it provides descriptions for every single product:
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  • #15
From the very beginning I had been asking myself what connection there could be between the Wattage of LED lamps and the Wattage of low energy and older lamps. Your post brought the answer.
For information on plants I use this German website which is also in English - I think it still works with Watt/liter.

If you click on the scientific name a new page opens with more detailed information. (Sorry if you are already aquainted with it.)

I left the 6500K at the right hand side of the tank, the 9W started hurting my eyes so I replaced it with a 4W.
The left part of the aquarium is now no longer dark, but illuminated by a 9W/3000K snail-type lamp as in the first picture.
I moved the Java fern right under it, I remember that in the 8 gallon the Microsorum p. seemed to like it. But as you said the tank was less deep. Now we talk about a maximum of 35cm: substrate to water surface, i.e. 13-14 inches.

I also moved it there because a labyrinth fish expert told me that my tiny dwarf sparkling guramis want plants that from the bottom reach all the way to the water surface-otherwise they would not breathe air from the atmosphere nor feed undisturbed. So I arranged the different pieces / mother and daughter plants of the Java fern so as to form a kind of Christmas tree.

Here many very essential elements are low: low-profile (i.e. cheap, fish), low-tech (no retro osmosis water production, Lee's economy corner filters), low-cost, low-budget.
But I am high on enthusiasm (I would call it love) and dedication to my fish and plants. (Living in a country like this turns anyone into a poet sooner or later .)

(In your user profile I read only the names of plants. Have you no fish?)
My 19 gallon has:
- Java fern:
- Anacharis or Elodea canadensis:
- Monosolenium tenerum, formerly called Pellia:

And so many algae that it drives one crazy.
Jocelyn Adelman
  • #16
Jumped on just to say I will read up on your postings tomorrow...

Lol the profile, haven’t looked at that in ages...
Have 32 tanks total, so tons of plants and fish/inverts....

Too late for me to think clearly, but I will also get back to you with top to bottom suggestions for plants.

(And yes, as for the first delay, usually only get the time to pop on here once or twice a week at most lately)
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  • #17
A fellow aquarist recommended this: ]Easy Life Profito - 500ml per 5000 litrI . She said that it contains everything that is necessary.
I do not see N P K, though.
To be sure: N does stand for azote/nitrogen, P for phosphorus an K for potassium/kalium, does it?

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